Tendon vibration-induced inhibition of human and cat triceps surae group I reflexes: Evidence of selective Ib afferent fiber activation

Linda F. Hayward, Richard P. Nielsen, Charles J. Heckman, Robert S. Hutton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


In humans, prolonged vibration of the Achilles tendon produced transient depression or abolition of the soleus H-reflex. Recovery of the electrical reflex threshold to previbration values at a constant lower stimulus intensity usually occurred between 10 to 55 min. Electrical stimulation at higher multiples of the reflex threshold produced reflex EMG amplitudes more immediately comparable to previbration controls. When postvibration H-reflexes were completely abolished, poststimulus averaging of voluntarily maintained tonic EMG activity showed evidence of inhibition at a 46-ms latency in contrast to a 32-ms previbration H-reflex latency. In cat, observation of H-reflexes were rare, but stimulus-evoked changes in EMG activity mimicked the postvibration depression seen in humans. Ventral root postvibration reflexes from triceps surae varied in magnitude but were usually depressed or abolished at 1.0 to 1.2 times the electrical reflex threshold. These responses returned to previbration control amplitudes within 20 to 35 min. Magnitude of depression and time to recovery were dependent on the intensity of the electrical stimulus. In five experiments, depression of postvibration reflex activity and recovery were accompanied by gradual recovery in amplitude of the group I volley to previbration amplitudes. Elevated group Ia axonal electrical thresholds, monitored from seven isolated units, were observed to recover to previbration values in parallel with postvibration reflex recovery to control amplitudes. At electrical stimulus intensities greater than 1.4 times the reflex threshold, postvibration reflex responses were often potentiated, probably reflecting posttetanic potentiation of group Ia pathways activated at their higher axonal thresholds. In two observations, postvibration Ib axonal electrical thresholds did not change. Overall, the findings supported the proposal that postvibration depression of soleus H-reflexes in humans or cats is caused by both disfacilitation and autogenetic inhibition due to withdrawal of Ia afferent activation and increased selectivity of Ib afferent fiber stimulation, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-347
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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